The Effect of Microwaves on Food

In short, microwave ovens are kitchen appliances which are used to cook or reheat food by emitting microwaves. Microwaves are a form of electromagnetic radiation and are on the low energy end of the energy spectrum, second to radio waves. The waves are generated by something called a magnetron – something found within every microwave oven.

Magnetrons produce an electromagnetic field with a microwave frequency of approximately 2,450 megahertz (MGz), which is the equivalent to 2.4 gigahertz (GHz). Microwaves produced within the microwave oven cause dielectric heating – they bounce around the inside of the oven and are absorbed by whatever is placed in the oven.

In order for something to heat in a microwave oven, water must be present within the substance. If water is not present, heating will not occur and it would remain cool. The reason for this is that water molecules within the food vibrate at incredible speeds, creating molecular friction which is responsible for the heating of the food. The structure of the water molecules is torn apart and vigorously deformed. This is much different than any other method of cooking, as other methods such as convection ovens heat up food by transferring heat convectionally from the outside inward.

Hans Hertel, a Swiss scientist, states:

“There are no atoms, molecules or cells of any organic system able to withstand such a violent, destructive power for any extended period of time, not even in the low energy range of milliwatts… This is how microwave cooking heat is generated – friction from this violence in water molecules. Structures of molecules are torn apart, molecules are forcefully deformed (called structural isomerism) and thus become impaired in quality.”

You might wonder why food is often unevenly heated when taken out of the microwave. The uneven heating occurs because microwaves work with whatever water molecules are present, and since not all areas of food contain the same amount of water, heating becomes uneven.

While microwave cooking does begin within the molecules where water is present, they don’t actually cook from “the inside out” like many people believe. They actually start with the outer layers while the inner layers are mostly heated and cooked simply by transference of heat from the outer layers. This is oftentimes why you’ll find that the outside of the food is extremely hot while the inside seems to have been absent during the re-heating or cooking.

The Radiation Effects of Microwaves and Other Forms of Non-Ionizing Radiation

Microwaves are in fact radiation. They are classified as non-ionizing radiation – radiation which can change the position of atoms but is not strong enough to alter their structure, composition, or properties. Even though non-ionizing radiation is not strong enough to alter the structure of atoms, it is still able to cause physical alterations. A clear example of how non-ionizing radiation can harm you is the damage caused to your skin and eyes from the sun. When you use microwave cooking, you are exposing yourself to microwave radiation.

Other forms of ionizing radiation are visible light, ultraviolet and infrared waves, and waves emitted from televisions, cell phones, and electric blankets.  Today we live in a technologically advanced world. We could label the time we live in as the “technology age” as well as the “radiation age”. People today are bombarded with radiation from almost everything around: radio towers, televisions, cell phones, microwave ovens, computers, satellites, broadcast antennas, and so much more. Unfortunately, radiation doesn’t go away over time, in fact, it just accumulates.

Although humankind has conducted study after study concluding that no amount of radiation is safe, we don’t really know what all of this means in the long term. 

Who shouldn’t use microwave ovens and why?

No one should be using microwave ovens. This is especially true if you are a baby, a child, are pregnant, already suffer from illness & disease, or are already bombarded with more radiation than the average person.

Why?  You may suffer from “Microwave Sickness”

Tissues directly exposed to microwaves are subject to the same deformities molecules go through, and this can in turn cause you to experience “microwave sickness”. Remember, it isn’t just microwave ovens which emit this kind of radiation. Cell phone towers also emit this type of radiation.

 Life Energy is Depleted

Foods which haven’t been processed or cooked and are naturally occurring contain life energy which is transmitted from the sun. Biophotons are the smallest physical unit of light which are stored in all life forms. They contain bio-information and are partially responsible the feelings you get which signify well-being and vitality. Foods like naturally grown vegetables and especially sun-ripened fruits are the main source for these biophotons to humans.

Microwaving food, in effect, potentially destroys and depletes the life energy, rendering the food completely dead and lifeless. In addition, the food’s nutritional value is lost and it becomes nearly useless in terms of providing any real health benefit.

Say Goodbye to Your Foods Nutritional Value

Although there hasn’t been as many studies on microwaves as say, the importance of various vitamins and minerals, all of the studies generally agree on one thing: nutritional value is significantly reduced if you microwave food. You’d think that studying microwaves would be at the top of the list, given their place in our society, but evidently their role is not significant enough for more thorough testing.

Note that most of these studies have been done prior to 2000. This may be due to the shift of focus from microwaves to a more prevalent threat to humanity: the intense electromagnetic chaos from electromagnetic devices such as cell phones, computers, and advanced technology. Here are some studies illustrating the detrimental effects of microwaves and microwave cooking.

  • This study found that broccoli when microwaved with a little bit of water loses up to 97% of its beneficial antioxidants. Steamed broccoli only lost 11% or less. Some amounts of phenolic compounds and glucosinolates were also lost. The study was published in the November 2003 issue of The Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture.
  • Vitamin C in asparagus spears was lost during a 1999 Scandinavian study.
  • One study found 60 seconds of microwaving garlic depleted the food of its allinase, garlic’s primary cancer-fighting ingredient.
  • Just 6 minutes of microwave heating turned 30-40 percent of the B12 in milk into a dead form, which was found in a Japanese study by Watanabe.
  • An Australian study recently conducted showed that microwaves cause a higher degree of “protein unfolding” than conventional heating.
  • A 1992 study found that breast milk lost lysozyme activity, antibodies, and became a more suitable environment for the potential growth of pathogenic bacteria after being microwaved.

Microwaving Food Leads to a Negative Impact on Human Physiology & the Heart

Hans Hertel, a Swiss food scientist, initiated the first tests on microwaved food and microwave cooking to determine how microwaves affect human physiology and the blood. After studying these effects, Hertel concluded that microwaving food leads to food degeneration. These degenerative changes in nutrients caused changes in blood which could cause health problems.

Health issues which could be caused by micro-waved foods are:

  • Elevated cholesterol levels
  • A plummet in leukocytes (white blood cells), which could suggest poisoning
  • Decreased red blood cell levels
  • Production of radiolytic compounds
  • Decreased haemoglobin levels, which might indicate anaemia 

Another study found that microwave frequency radiation affects the heart at non-thermal levels – levels which are well below federal safety guidelines. To examine these effects, the study used a 2.4GHz radiation frequency, which is the same frequency emitted by microwave ovens as well as Wi-Fi routers.

There is even evidence that this same frequency can cause elevated blood sugar levels in certain people. This points to the possibility that there may be a type 3 diabetes generated by dirty electricity. Here is a video below making a presentation support this. You may find the video “slow”, but it’s well worth 7 minutes of your time.

Watch the video clip for more information    

Solution!

There doesn’t seem to be any reason to use microwave ovens when comparing benefits and the risks. Even if all of the information, all of the studies, and all of the people speaking out against microwave ovens didn’t know 100% that these devices were harmful, is it really worth the risk for a little convenience? No one voicing the dangers of microwaves has an agenda. This care is pure, and it’s an issue that is seriously alive. Avoid microwave cooking and avoid the carcinogenic substances that are created from it. 

If you’re sceptical of this information, at least minimize your use of the device just in case, until you come to a different decision.

Firstly, dispose of your microwave.  DBM do NOT recommend the use of microwaves.

Plan ahead and put your food in a conventional oven. You may also use a convection oven, or toaster oven as alternatives. Another tip is to start consuming more raw food – this will automatically limit the chances you’d even need to use a microwave, and it’s extremely healthy.

Invest in a product which will protect you against electromagnetic radiation. We suggest you do this anyway due to the incredible bombardment of EMR people are exposed to now. By doing this, you’ll more or less eliminate the radiation aspect of microwaves, but will still suffer from the loss of nutrients, and alterations of chemicals which inhibit cancer growth.

Although the dangers of microwaves aren’t the biggest problems facing society, they are still very prevalent and extremely easy to avoid.

Microwave Ovens and Health

Much research is under way on microwaves and how they might affect the human body. It is known that microwave radiation can heat body tissue the same way it heats food. Exposure to high levels of microwaves can cause a painful burn. The lens of the eye is particularly sensitive to intense heat, and exposure to high levels of microwaves can cause cataracts. Likewise, the testes are very sensitive to changes in temperature. Accidental exposure to high levels of microwave energy can alter or kill sperm, producing temporary sterility. But these types of injuries - burns, cataracts, temporary sterility - can only be caused by exposure to large amounts of microwave radiation, much more than the 5mW limit for microwave oven leakage.

Less is known about what happens to people exposed to low levels of microwaves. Controlled, long-term studies involving large numbers of people have not been conducted to assess the impact of low level microwave energy on humans. Much research has been done with experimental animals, but it is difficult to translate the effects of microwaves on animals to possible effects on humans. For one thing, there are differences in the way animals and humans absorb microwaves. For another, experimental conditions can't exactly simulate the conditions under which people use microwave ovens. However, these studies do help us better understand the possible effects of radiation.

The fact that many scientific questions about exposure to low-levels of microwaves are not yet answered require FDA to continue to enforcement of radiation protection requirements. Consumers should take certain common sense precautions.

DBM COMMENTS

After having studied the section on EMFs and their effects on the body, combined with the knowledge that the body is, by weight over 60% water (this varies based upon factors such as age, health, weight and sex) – we leave you to decide whether or not microwaves which essentially will alter the structure of the molecular structure of food.

A recent study examining the effects 2.4 GHz radiation (which is the frequency of radiation emitted by Wi-Fi routers and microwave ovens) on the heart was just completed. The study found "unequivocal evidence" that microwave frequency radiation affects the heart at non-thermal levels that are well below federal safety guidelines, according to Dr. Magda Havas of Trent University. Dr. Havas says:

"This is the first study that documents immediate and dramatic changes in both heart rate and heart rate variability caused by an approved device that generates microwaves at levels well below (0.3 percent) federal guidelines in both Canada and the United States."

No longer can sceptics claim that microwaves produce no immediate biological effects at ordinary household levels! The study will be appearing in a peer-reviewed journal sometime during the summer of 2010. If you are experiencing rapid or irregular heartbeat, pain or pressure in your chest, you will want to visit your physician and share this video with him or her (second video on this page). There is also evidence that this same frequency of radiation causes blood sugar to spike in susceptible individuals and may actually be the cause of one type of diabetes.

Quoted from Dr. Mercola’s website

There has been surprisingly little research on how microwaves affect organic molecules, or how the human body responds to consuming microwaved food. Wouldn't you expect that a product that sits in more than 90 percent of kitchens, as well as practically every break room in the country, would have been thoroughly investigated for safety?

The handful of studies that have been done generally agree, for the most part, that microwaving food damages its nutritional value. Your microwave turns your beautiful, organic veggies, for which you've paid such a premium in money or labour, into "dead" food that can cause disease! Heating food, in and of itself, can result in some nutrient loss, but using microwaves to heat food introduces the additional problem of the "microwave effect," a phenomenon that will be discussed in detail later.

The majority of studies on microwaves and nutrition were conducted prior to 2000, I suspect because the focus of radiation research of late has shifted toward a more ominous threat: environmental radiation from electromagnetic devices, such as cell phones and computers, which has mushroomed into a gigantic cloud of electro-smog worldwide over the past decade.

Nevertheless, some excellent scientific data has been gathered regarding the detrimental effects of microwaves on the nutrients in your food:

  • A study published in the November 2003 issue of The Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture5 found that broccoli "zapped" in the microwave with a little water lost up to 97 percent of its beneficial antioxidants. By comparison, steamed broccoli lost 11 percent or fewer of its antioxidants. There were also reductions in phenolic compounds and glucosinolates, but mineral levels remained intact.
  • A 1999 Scandinavian study of the cooking of asparagus spears found that microwaving caused a reduction in vitamin C6.
  • In a study of garlic, as little as 60 seconds of microwave heating was enough to inactivate its allinase, garlic's principle active ingredient against cancer7.
  • A Japanese study by Watanabe showed that just 6 minutes of microwave heating turned 30-40 percent of the B12 in milk into an inert (dead) form8. This study has been cited by Dr. Andrew Weil as evidence supporting his concerns about the effects of microwaving. Dr. Weil wrote:  "There may be dangers associated with microwaving food... there is a question as to whether microwaving alters protein chemistry in ways that might be harmful."
  • A recent Australian study9 showed that microwaves cause a higher degree of "protein unfolding" than conventional heating.
  • Microwaving can destroy the essential disease-fighting agents in breast milk that offer protection for your baby. In 1992, Quan found that microwaved breast milk lost lysozyme activity, antibodies, and fostered the growth of more potentially pathogenic bacteria10. 
  • Quan stated that more damage was done to the milk by microwaving than by other methods of heating, concluding: "Microwaving appears to be contraindicated at high-temperatures, and questions regarding its safety exist even at low temperatures."
  • Another study about breast milk/infant formula by Lee in 198911 found vitamin content becomes depleted by microwaving, and certain amino acids are converted into other substances that are biologically inactive. Some altered amino acids are poisons to the nervous system and kidneys. (Numerous authors mention this study, yet I was unable to find the original article/study, so I cannot personally validate.) 
  • Although many of the above studies are not new, there is certainly ample evidence that microwaving is NOT good for your food.

How Your Microwave Actually Heats Your Food

Microwaves are a form of electromagnetic radiation—waves of electrical and magnetic energy moving together through space. EM radiation ranges from very high energy (gamma rays and x-rays) on one end of the spectrum to very low energy (radio waves) on the other end of the spectrum. Microwaves are on the low energy end of the spectrum, second only to radio waves. They have a wavelength of about 4.8 inches—about the width of your head. Microwaves are generated by something called a magnetron (a term derived from the words "magnet" and "electron"), which is also what enabled airborne radar use during WWII. Hence the early name for microwave ovens: radar ranges.

A magnetron is a tube in which electrons are subjected to both magnetic and electrical fields, producing an electromagnetic field with a microwave frequency of about 2,450 megahertz (MHz), which is 2.4 gigahertz (GHz). Microwaves cause dielectric heating. They bounce around the inside of your oven and are absorbed by the food you put in it. Since water molecules are bipolar, having a positive end and negative end, they rotate rapidly in the alternating electric field. The water molecules in the food vibrate violently at extremely high frequencies – like millions of times per second – creating molecular friction, which heats up the food.

If the food or object place in the microwave had no water it would not be able to have this resonance heating type effect and would remain cool. Or, as investigative journalist William Thomas calls it, "electrical whiplash." Structures of the water molecules are torn apart and forcefully deformed. This is different from conventional heating of food, whereby heat is transferred via convection from the outside, inward.   Microwave cooking begins within the molecules where water is present.

Contrary to popular belief, microwaved foods don't cook "from the inside out." When thicker foods are cooked, microwaves heat the outer layers, and the inner layers are cooked mostly by the conduction of heat from the hot outer layers, inward.

Since not all areas contain the same amount of water, the heating is uneven. Additionally, microwaving creates new compounds that are not found in humans or in nature, called radiolytic compounds. We don't yet know what these compounds are doing to your body. In addition to the violent frictional heat effects, called thermic effects, there are also athermic effects, which are poorly understood because they are not as easily measured. It is these athermic effects that are suspected to be responsible for much of the deformation and degradation of cells and molecules. 

As an example, microwaves are used in the field of gene altering technology to weaken cell membranes. Scientists use microwaves to actually break cells apart. Impaired cells then become easy prey for viruses, fungi and other microorganisms. Another word for these athermic effects is the "microwave effect," a subject of controversy that I'll get into a bit later.

AND THEN THERE IS THE ISSUE OF BIOPHOTONS…

Possible Microwave Effects on Your Biophotons

Biophotonics is the study, research, and applications of photons in their interactions within and on biological systems. Much of the work in the area of biophotons was done in Germany. Dr. Dietrich Klinghardt discusses biophotons in a 2008 interview.

Biophotons are the smallest physical units of light that are stored in and used by all biological organisms—including you. Vital sun energy finds its way into your cells via the food you eat, in the form of these biophotons.

Biophotons contain important bio-information and are very important to many vital processes in your body. They are partly responsible for your feeling of vitality and well-being. You gain biophotons by eating foods rich in them, such as naturally grown fresh vegetables and sun-ripened fruits, which are rich in light energy. The more light energy a food is able to store, the more nutritious it is.

If the "microwave effect" exists (as you shall see, there is a huge amount of evidence that it does), then microwaves can potentially destroy biophotons in the same way that it alters other structures, rendering your food dead and lifeless. It seems quite plausible that microwaves could disrupt or destroy biophotons, since they are capable of breaking apart DNA bonds!

As far as I can find, there haven't been any studies of the direct effects of microwave radiation on biophotons, but it seems like an important angle of investigation for the future.

Is Microwaving Food Any More Dangerous than Heating It with a Conventional Oven?

Some experts claim that the effects microwaves have on molecules can all be explained simply as the "thermic effect" of heating—in other words, microwave cooking is no more detrimental to food than conventional heating.  They argue that, since microwaves are non-ionizing radiation, then it's impossible for them to damage your blood cells, or eradicate the folic acid in your spinach. Others have proposed there is some sort of "microwave effect" that causes changes in the molecules in a way that conventional heating does not. For many years, the party line was that "microwave effect" is a myth.

However, study after study has resulted in evidence to the contrary, showing effects that cannot be explained away as simple thermal effects. In a letter titled "DNA and the Microwave Effect"19 (sourced as Penn State University, 2001), the author reviews the history of the controversy surrounding the microwave effect and the research findings to date. He explains that, although fundamentals of thermodynamics and physics would tell you the microwave effect is impossible, studies keep turning up evidence of its existence. 

Some of the main points made in the letter are the following:

  • Microwave heating and conventional heating may appear identical on a "macro" level, but the two appear very different on a molecular level.
  • Microwaves are effective for sterilisation, which has been studied for several decades.  There is controversy, however, is about whether it is the heat they generate or if it is something else altogether.
  • One scientist (Kakita 1995[20]) was successful in demonstrating that microwaves are capable of extensively fragmenting and destroying viral DNA, something that cannot be accomplished by heating alone.
  • Multiple studies offer evidence that there are multiple mechanisms for breaking apart DNA without ionising radiation, but no theory currently exists to explain this phenomenon.

Some scientists are taking advantage of the microwave effect and using microwaves in the laboratory to greatly accelerate chemical reactions, sometimes by a factor of a thousand, resulting in the completion of reactions in minutes that formerly took days or months and a lot of toxic chemicals. This newly found interest in "microwave chemistry" has spurred skeptical scientists into taking another look at what microwaves actually do and how they do it. Sometimes common sense trumps empirical evidence. 

The Penn State letter/article said it best:

"...It would seem there is reason to believe that the microwave effect does indeed exist, even if it cannot yet be adequately explained. What we know at present is somewhat limited, but there may be enough information already available to form a viable hypothesis. The possibility that electromagnetic radiation in the non-ionizing frequency range can cause genetic damage may have profound implications on the current controversy involving EM antennae, power lines, and cell phones."

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